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Cosmopolitan Intimacies: Malay Film Music of the Independence Era

Adil Johan

978 981 4722 63 6
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Publication date:
15 May 2018

Full description: 

The Golden Age of Malay film in the 1950s and 1960s was the product of a musical and cultural cosmopolitanism in the service of a nation-making process based on ideas of Malay ethnonationalism, initially fluid, increasingly homogenized over time. The commercial films of the period, and in particular their film music, from national cultural icons P. Ramlee and Zubir Said, remain important cultural reference points for Malaysia and Singapore to this day. This is the first in-depth study of the film music of the period, and its social and cultural impact. The study brings together ethnomusicological and cultural studies perspectives.

Written in an engaging manner, thoroughly illustrated and incorporating musical scores, the book will appeal to dedicated film fans, musicians, composers and filmmakers interested in Southeast Asia and the Malay world. But equally, the conceptual framework will be of interest to a broad range of scholars of Southeast Asia, as it brings together ideas of cosmopolitanism and cultural intimacy to narrate a history of nation-making in the region.


Adil Johan is a saxophonist, ethnomusicologist and research fellow at the Institute for Ethnic Studies (KITA) in the National University of Malaysia.



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